Mentor Advice ForumCategory: QuestionsIs it better to retip older instruments or buy new?
Stephanie phillips asked 4 years ago

Hello from Michigan!
I am a clinical RDH working in a private practice for 5.5 years. We have always bought new hu-friedy instruments as needed and regularly rotated all instruments and ultrasonic tips. Recently, one of the doctors I work for wants us to retip older instruments vs. buy new. He argues it is more economical and there is no lack of quality control. I strongly disagree and would like your insight concerning this clinical topic. Thank you.

1 Answers
Lucinda B. McKechnie, RDH, BS Staff answered 4 years ago

I am so glad you “strongly disagree” with the issue of “more economical” and “no lack of quality control” when it comes to re-tipping instruments. The evidence suggests that re-tipping may be unsafe for two reasons. First, when re-tipping the instrument, the balance of the instrument may be changed so the pressure applied on the lower third of the curet blade during instrumentation may be wastefully distributed somewhere else within the shank or lower shank unless the blade is perfectly positioned per the original manufacturer (thus, influencing efficiency and potentially contributing to repetitive motion injury). Second, some studies have reflected concern for complete sterilization if there is a microscopic “break” in the instrument.

It may be wise to organize the instruments for the Hu-Friedy instrument recycling program (perhaps your office is doing this already). Our office has been participating in this program for decades. Send in 12 old used instruments and obtain one free in this recycling program. In addition, emphasis should be on maintaining the instruments with proper sharpening techniques in order to extend the longevity of the instrument. Having new and freshly sharpened instruments on your tray set up is advantageous to confronting the variations in pocket topography. Perhaps explaining to the dentist who questions your concerns what efforts are already being made in the office to establish instrument protocol longevity, as well as your concerns about proper sterilization and instrument balance with re-tipping may assuage his or her concerns.